Sad images were produced on the 27th of February, when the final A380 component convoy made its way through the French village of Lévignac on its way to final assembly.
Following the route through the village since the mid-2000s, the final convoy marks the end of a seriously amazing aircraft program; regardless of the poor sales and early retirements.
Consisting of six trucks carrying three fuselage pieces, the tail and both wings, residents of the town looked on for the last time, as the convoy slowly made its way with inches to spare.
Aviation Toulouse (@frenchpainter) captured the historic moment and published the convoy moments on twitter:
The last pair of A380 wings : pic.twitter.com/7IusUFXyRu— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) February 27, 2020
Airbus and its subsidiaries manufacture and deliver components for the A380 program all over Europe and the UK, before it all meets up in Toulouse for final assembly.
The front fuselage is from France, whilst the rear fuselage is delivered from Germany. From the UK are the enormous wings and the tail is from both Spain and Germany.
Engine Alliance, a joint venture between Pratt and Whitney and General Electric, and Rolls-Royce are the only engine providers for the aircraft, meaning engines are solely supplied from the UK and the USA.
Due to the A380s monstrous size the major components such as its fuselage, wings and tail have had to be transported across a sophisticated network of roads, canals and sea called the Itinéraire à Grand Gabarit or ‘large-size itinerary’, which has its own website run by the French Environment Industry.
Specifically created for the A380, the Itinéraire à Grand Gabarit includes a fleet of specialist ships, barges and trucks for large loads; whilst smaller components for the A380 are carried by the A300-600ST Beluga.
The road trip, along existing and new roadways, lasts multiple days and nights and secure parking areas allow the convoy to stop for breaks and checks. Modifications to the road system include the increased height of transmission lines and guidance systems, in the form of markings and guidelines to prevent components and vehicles from colliding with foreign objects.
The canal and sea journeys see components, narrowly, sail under bridges and through rough seas; however, the the weather data and research conducted since the beginning of the program have allowed the company to ensure a safe delivery.
Although this is the final full-size convoy, Airbus has confirmed to The Points Guy that a smaller convoy will operate in April; this will just be carrying fuselage pieces for MSN272. Production lists indicate MSN272 will be destined for Emirates and will be the last A380 ever to be delivered. Airbus figures show that only nine more A380s are to be delivered. Eight of these aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to Emirates and one for ANA in April.
Production of the A380 will end in 2021. Airbus will then start converting the giant production halls into A321neo lines, for their upcoming A321XLR and other variants.
Whilst to some the A380 might not be pretty or blatantly considered a failure, the aircraft has proven to be a passenger favourite and is still one of the quietest and most comfortable aircraft to fly on.
Airbus doesn’t have a similar product in mind to replace the A380 and will instead focus on the A350 Family and smaller aircraft, such as the A320neo Family and A220 to meet today and tomorrows aviation market.
How do you feel seeing the last A380 convoy?
Note that cover photo is from ANAs first A380 component delivery in 2018.